Editor’s note: County commissioners originally estimated the cost of this initiative to be $400,000. A revised estimate now shows the cost at $339,000.
When you call 911, you need the swiftest response police can offer.
For the past year, Amherst officers have been testing new hardware and software designed to accelerate responses to emergencies. Now police chief Joseph Kucirek is urging the county to pay roughly $339,000 to help other law enforcement agencies jump on board.
Some police vehicles, such as unmarked cars, aren’t fitted with computers. A new tracking system, similar to GPS, is designed to show 911 dispatchers where all available units are, who is closest, and who can offer help the fastest when seconds can make all the difference in the world.
“It’s directly tied to minimizing response time (and) knowing where the assets are,” Kucirek told county commissioners Wednesday.
He said the Amherst test worked well for mutual aide, making it easier for police and firefighters to share emergency information. The purchase was part of the second phase of efforts to improve communication and coordination between local police and the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office.
Lorain County administrator Jim Cordes said he’s hopeful other police departments besides Amherst will use the software. He said it could also be used by the county to track vehicles and by school systems to pinpoint where buses are.
“It’s helping the community but it’s also safeguarding those who are out there helping the communities,” Cordes said.
The first phase took effect in October of last year. Amherst police as well as those in Avon Lake, Elyria, Lorain, North Ridgeville, Sheffield, Sheffield Lake, Wellington, and the sheriff’s office began using the New World computer system for records management. By using the same database, it’s easier for officers to check on investigations of other departments and to see if suspects are wanted by other departments.
County commissioner Matt Lundy said the collaboration and purchase are part of efforts to improve teamwork between police departments to increase public safety. “It’s not possible without everybody working together and that’s not always an easy thing to do,” he said.
The communications system is also part of efforts by Amherst police to improve their computer system. It experienced problems with its changeover from the EmergiTech system to the New World system.
The new system was activated in August of last year. In January or February, more than 30 people’s Social Security numbers that were in crash reports were accidentally posted online briefly.
Kucirek said after the commissioners’ meeting that no one who had their information posted has complained to police about identity theft due to the breach.
He said compatibility problems have continued to delay release of the department’s 2015 annual crime report. Problems also delayed release of the 2014 report.
Evan Goodenow can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @GoodenowNews on Twitter.